Continuing right along with attacking this new stack of films I just acquired, we have MIDNIGHT MOVIE. First of all, from the pictures I saw alone -the ones, aside from the review, that really peaked my interest for this movie- are really, really cool. Normally, I don't fall for just cool stills, but something about the killer (Lee Main) in this flick with: a) one of the most original and brutal weapons I have personally seen in a long time and; b) just about the grooviest mask on a predator seen since the heyday of slasher movies. Speaking of slasher movies, this film absolutely captures the essence of those days-gone-by when horror movies contained that certain air of brutality, griminess, and that little filling of tongue-in-cheek humor. On top of that is some pretty decent acting by the cast (only one of which I really recognized) and a far more solid story than even I immediately gave it credit for.
MIDNIGHT MOVIE, 2009, DIR. JACK MESSITT - HORROR, APPROX. 120 MIN.
From the get go, it's hard not to get that feeling that something larger is about to happen real quick. The movie opens in a Psychiatric Hospital where we see one Ted Radford being forcibly hauled to a room in which he is about to undergo some kind of odd treatment that features him watching a movie. Now we find out directly that, according to one of the doctors, the very movie Radford is watching has been known to illicit a psychotic response. The other doctor dismisses his worries and, as we've come to expect from a history of slasher movies, that's when the proverbial shit hits the fan. And it does. Radford goes bonkers and slaughters the entire 71-person hospital.
Fast forward five years to a little nowhere town with a little run-down Bijou. Up on the mezzanine we see: DARK BENEATH. opening that very night. The theater employees, Bridget (Rebekah Brandes), Rachel (Brea Grant - yes, the super stunning Daphne from Heroes), and Kenny (Shaun Ausmus) are all anticipating a pretty decent turn-out as this is the first time -apparently- that this movie has been shown in five years since the movies writer/director, TED BRADFORD, went bat-shit crazy. Yes, now we begin to see where this is heading. Well, I was wrong too: this movie doesn't really do too much predictably. In fact, the paths it goes down are pretty darn inventive while at once clining tenaciously to the slasher genre.
Once the movie begins to roll -well, the movie within the movie- we are treated to our own seats as the audience at home gets to watch a nice homage to the good old days of Grindhouse Horror with a movie someting akin to a Hershell Gordon Lewis meets Tobe Hooper. We watch as a van full of Hippies on their way to Woodstock suddenly find themselves with a flat in the middle of a creepy dirt road (does no one learn to STAY ON THE MAIN ROADS!). A kid goes off alone to seek help from the creepy farmhouse a mile back and then, well it's just a killing spree after that.
Now, back in the movie itself, the picture of the old reel their watching melts a little and restarts with an entirely different camera view of: THE VERY THEATER THEY'RE IN! And soon, folks from the Bijou are getting whacked at the same frantic rate. Now, meanwhile, a couple of guys who have come to the theater in hopes of wrangling Ted Radford -as they hope he'll attend- find themselves trapped right along with Bridget, her friend Samantha (Mandell Maughan), Bridget's boyfriend, Josh (Daniel Bonjour), and Sam's fella, Mario (Greg Cirulnick) in the theater. Oh, but that's not the only ones along for the ride of a lifetime: Bridget's little brother (maybe 10), Timmy (Justin Baric), and a biker couple, Harley (Stan Ellsworth), and his bitchy babe, Babe (Melissa Steach). Now, the cops tell the rest of the bunch about the whole Ted Radford thing we already know, and, of course, they immediately freak especially since they CAN'T GET OUT!
Now, beyond this point, If I start elaborating on what goes on, it'll spoil this this thing for sure, but what I will say is that it adheres firmly to it's slasher roots with a nice slathering of supernatural tossed in for good measure. It's got a nice balance of gore, suspense, twists, and scares without overdoing it on any one level. I liked it quite a bit and really dug it's bit of originality and the groovy ending. Seek this one out, if not just for the kick-ass killer. Good stuff.